Is it safe and ok to travel solo with a camper trailer these days ?
There’s lots of pros and cons about this these days, but on my last few trips it’s been playing on my mind. With the phone network getting better and better and the advancement of different social media outlets that include Facebook, Instagram and texting it is good to keep in touch if something happens. Sounds silly but often l find in remote locations sometimes a text wont go through but a posting on Instagram ( @woolgoolgaoffroad ) will work. At least this way if anything happens someone can see your last position post. Using social media can definatly help when you have service. We live in a funny land regarding network service. I’ve been in some bloody remote location and sometimes can get 1 bar of service-not enough to make a call but enough to send something out, just maybe the wind might of been blowing the right direction from a remote community,oil or gas station. Then on the other hand the signal drops out on the towns outer-limits, now that’s frustrating.
The looks you get from other travellers can be painful too when setting up solo with a trailer. Can just hear the chatter, ‘too big, why ?,bit silly, better having a swag or tent’ and so on. Most of my big trips are done solo with a trailer but just last year l did a two week trip out through the corner and back with just a tent and it was great. Nice and simple with my fridge, plenty of water, $20 cooker and sleeping gear. But you know what ? all of that gear still filled my 4wd. Throw in a self inflating mattress, sleeping bag, box of food, spares, camera plus tripod and tools but it was great. Simple and easy-setup tent, pull out awning from car, cook on the back tailgate and not having to worry about having something behind you as you explore areas. Maybe this is the answer. But then I suppose it depends on big your 4wd is too.
There is no right or wrong answer and definatly no rules for solo travelling but as I’m getting older I’m thinking more and more of it. Sure you can have some great times but enjoying it by yourself is a little tedious sometimes. At least you have all the planning rights for the trip.
People often get into the notion of they are going to remote areas and need 4wd, need the biggest fridge and need what-not, yet you start talking to them and they may not even be going off the bitumen and if they do they will see some kind of town every day sometimes two, which are good for supplies and fuel. Too often I see people without the basics and essentials for outback remote when travelling solo like UHF radio, GPS unit, first aid kit, unprepared vehicle and just no bloody etiquette like slowing down on dirt roads or no lights on when it’s dusty. When you do get to a camping area how close is too close to setup camp ? Sometimes I tuck away from the others so I can still see them through the trees or across the way just for a little security.
This brings another equation into solo travelling and camping. You’ve spent weeks and months setting out a big trip plan and for most of your trip you stick to it. One day you decide to head off your plan and something happens, might be something mechanical, food poisoning or even an injury from a walk. Who do you depend or rely on ?. It’s these little things that you need to be careful of. Speaking of breakdowns, you need to rely on your mechanical knowledge to fix any issues that may arise-no one else to help out.
Don’t let all of this stop you exploring the outbacks remote areas, but just be prepared. Maybe head away in school holidays when there is more traffic around-sure it may be busier on the roads but good for your personal safety and if you have any breakdowns. Make a plan and pass it on to a trusted person, maybe start a FB or Instagram page where your friends can follow and track your journey. If you do feel the need to tow a camper solo buy a simple setup type. There are a few out there, don’t buy one with all the bells and whistles as these generally take two people to set up and are just too big. Keep things simple, quick to set up and carry minimal but basic items, if you haven't towed before do a course and understand what is going on behind you.
I suppose it’s not ideal for a solo traveller to drag a camper across the country side for a few reasons;
1..too big…I mean do you really need all the gear associated with a camper for just one person, may be comfy for a week or so but geez lots of gear and stuff to drag around unnecessary.
2..too long to set up…I know there is no ‘average’ time to set up a trailer as there are a host of different setups out there, but if you allow 20min+ for a couple to set a trailer up just how long would it take a solo to setup and would you be able to manage 20+ poles with ropes ?.
3..bad fuel economy…trust me-dragging a tonne or two behind your tow rig does take its toll and it doesn't matter how big or small the trailer is and when you hit the rough stuff economy does suffer off-road.
4..limits access to areas…sometimes it gets that rough, tight or just plain tedious towing that you want to give up or just go home. Some places could be steep, bloody ridiculous small camp allocations or too rough to keep towing.
5..cost…if you already don’t have one, why spend thousands on one ?..I mean $10 k can pay for a stack load of fuel to travel with, some great gear or even accommodation at caravan parks every now and then.
6..safety..this really got me thinking on my last few trips. Some remote spots I’ve felt uneasy at different spots at night. Waking at night with a tingling feeling-maybe wild dogs or dingos outside, wild cattle rummaging through the area at night to very remote places where if anything happened-no one might know for days, other campers partying through the night, gun shots the list goes on.